By Ryan Persaud
Capital News Service
One of Virginia’s first Latina lawmakers delivered the Democrats’ Spanish-language response to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address on Tuesday, saying he “has pushed a dark and extremist agenda that damages our national values and endangers national security.”
Del. Elizabeth Guzmán, a first-term delegate representing Virginia’s 31st District, criticized the Trump administration for actions she considered discriminatory. Those actions included rescinding protections for certain young immigrants under the Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals program and, in Guzmán’s view, Trump’s lack of action in providing citizens in Puerto Rico with hurricane relief.
“We should not accept nor normalize the atrocious and insulting way in which this president characterizes our communities,” she said in her nationally broadcast speech. “Doing so would mean giving in to a false and dangerous narrative.”
Guzmán emphasized the need to serve middle-class families instead of supporting the wealthiest, as she claims Trump’s policies do.
“Instead of fighting for the middle class, President Trump rolled back progress towards an overtime wage raise,” Guzmán said. “We, as Americans, deserve a leader that defends the interests of the middle class – not someone who helps the privileged and powerful step on everyone else.”
Guzmán closed her speech by calling upon citizens to make their voices heard by voting and running for office.
“I was told that Virginia wasn’t ready to elect a delegate with Latina roots – and look what happened,” said Guzmán, who was born in Peru and is a social worker in Prince William County. “We need candidates who worry about the fact that our children are at risk of inheriting a nation that no longer believes in equal opportunities for all.”
Guzmán’s speech, which aired with English subtitles for non-Spanish speakers, followed one from Rep. Joe Kennedy III, a Massachusetts congressman and grandson of Robert F. Kennedy who was chosen to lead the Democratic rebuttal. Kennedy called for the unity of the American people while also pointing out the discriminatory nature of the Trump administration.
“It would be easy to dismiss the past year as chaos, partisanship, politics, but it’s far bigger than that,” Kennedy said. “This administration isn’t just targeting the laws that protect us, they are targeting the very idea that we are all worthy of protection.”
The Democratic Party was responding to Trump’s first State of the Union address. In the address, the president reflected on his first year of office, citing tax cuts, the repeal of parts of the Affordable Care Act, and the creation of new jobs as major accomplishments for his administration.
Trump focused on future plans for immigration reform, which included building a border wall, as well as ending programs such as the visa lottery and chain migration, which would strongly limit immigration sponsorships to family members.
“In the age of terrorism, these programs present risks we can just no longer afford,” Trump said. “It’s time to reform these outdated immigration rules and finally bring our immigration system into the 21st century.”